Cooking at the Creek: Spaghetti Squash Satisfies a Pasta Craving

Spaghetti squash is a worthy substitute for pasta when combined with marinara, sausage, and cheese. Karen Schneider / For the forecaster

Spaghetti squash is a staple in my house, often incorporated into a main course when I have a craving for Italian cuisine. The vegetable’s texture and ability to take on other flavors makes it a flexible base for casseroles of all types when you would normally use higher calorie pastas.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbour. You can reach her at [email protected]

I rarely buy dressing, preferring to make my own, and while on a weekend yoga retreat I discovered this unusual dressing. After covering my greens with it, I wanted to find a container for this creamy elixir just so I could drink it.

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, simply mix 1 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar into the half cup of milk. Another substitute for buttermilk for this recipe is to mix 1/3 cup plain yogurt or sour cream with 1/4 cup water.

This dressing will keep for up to 10 days in the fridge, but there’s no way it will last that long. You’ll want to pour it over all your greens. It also makes a delicious dip – just leave out the water for a thicker consistency.

As you know, I have a thing for lemony treats and recently discovered Lemon Blondies. Much less hassle than lemon bars or lemon meringue pie, these fluffy, fluffy squares (don’t overcook!) come together in a hurry and can be glazed or unglazed. These are the perfect springtime dessert and will be well packed for picnics and barbecues that are just around the corner!

Sausage spaghetti squash

1 spaghetti squash (3 pounds)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 1/2 cup marinara sauce
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds then place cut side down on the pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until the squash flesh flakes easily with a fork. Remove all the “spaghetti” strands from the crust. Cool slightly in a colander, pressing out excess moisture with the back of a large spoon.

Place a large sauté pan over medium heat and heat the olive oil. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender, about 1 minute. Add the sausage, breaking it into pieces with a spatula. Fry until golden brown and cooked through. Drain cooking juices if necessary.

Add the spaghetti squash sprigs, marinara and oregano to the skillet and heat through.

Season with salt and pepper. Place one-third of the mixture in an oiled 2-quart casserole dish or baking dish. Place a third of the mozzarella on top and continue layering. Garnish with parmesan and breadcrumbs. Bake at 375 degrees until bubbling and golden on top, about 30 minutes. Yield: 4 servings

Creamy Italian Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup rapeseed oil
1/3 cup cottage cheese
2 tablespoons of water
1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of ground cardamom

In a blender or food processor, blend the ingredients until smooth. Yield: 2 cups

lemon blondies

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup flour
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 inch pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed with an electric mixer until light in consistency and colour, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Combine lemon zest, juice and vanilla.

Stir in flour and salt until just combined and smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 23 to 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool completely in pan before frosting.

icing

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice, stirring until smooth. The icing should flow easily from a spoon. Pour over the cooled blondies, spread it completely on top. Gently rock the mold back and forth after spreading it to even out the frosting. Let the frosting set at room temperature, about 30 minutes. Once the frosting has set, remove the blondies from the pan and cut them into squares. Yield: 16 squares

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